Actually, I met Tina Chancey back in 1983, when she played viola da gamba with the Washington Bach Consort (a group that I sang in at the time). Who would have thought that all of these year’s later, we would be making music together again?
Tina is the “bowed string” musician in Trio Sefardi (along with Howard Bass and Susan Gaeta) — they are featured in this year’s Christmas Revels. While Trio Sefardi is a fairly new group, Tina also directs HESPERUS, the world-traveled early/traditional music ensemble dedicated to bringing the past alive through collaborations between early music and film, theater, dance and world music–sounds a bit like Revels doesn’t it?
So… what does Tina play? She plays early and traditional bowed strings from rebec, Pontic lyra and vielle to viola da gamba and Old Time and Irish fiddle. And, on these instruments she plays roots music from Sephardic and blues to early music and jazz standards.
In this year’s show, Tina is not only playing… she has also arranged “Ocho Kandelikas,” (written by Sephardic singer, Flory Jagoda) for our chorus and brass (and, it has audience participation too), and wrote the fabulous brass arrangement for our “Eggplant” song (this one, you really have to experience in person!).
It has been a real joy for us to collaborate with Tina again this year during the development of this wonderful show (she last appeared with the Washington Revels in 1999 as part of our “Celestial Fools” show), and it will be a joy for all of you to experience her musical arrangements and to hear her play.
This year we are lucky to have two specialist music groups for our Christmas Revels show. The Arab Andalus group of musicians is named Layali El Andalus and is led by Rachid Halihal.
Rachid is a world-class musician who brings, to us, the true character and spirit of music from Andalusian Spain, the diverse regions of Morocco, and North Africa. As a child, growing up in Morocco, Rachid played the nei and sang, imitating the famous singers of the time. At age fourteen he entered “Dar Aadyil” the Conservatory of Music in Fez. At first he studied Western classical and Andalus music on piano and violin. He soon expanded to include a variety of other instruments in order to better express his native music. In addition to his voice, which is best featured in the Andalus style, his strongest instruments are the oud (similar to a lute without frets) and the violin, which he plays in both the classical manner and upright resting on the knee for Moroccan folkloric music.
Rachid arrived this Friday evening (November 25th) from Colorado, where he was presenting workshops and concerts in Boulder and Denver. Soon after his arrival he began rehearsing with local musicians Tina Chancey (you’ll hear more about her soon) and Elisabeth Myers–Tina and Elisabeth will be joining Layali El Andalus on a few of their songs, and the Washington Revels chorus will be singing with the group as well.
Learn more about Rachid by visiting his Web site (rachidhalihalmusic.com). And, visit the Layali El Andalus band Web site to learn more about his group (ayalielandalus.com). We are so excited to have them as part of this year’s Christmas Revels.
Last night at the Trio Sefardi concert we had the privilege of hearing Flory Jagoda sing her song “Ocho Kandelikas.” Trio Sefardi are playing in this year’s Christmas Revels; they’re the specialists in Sephardic music.
The members of Trio Sefardi all learned from Flory, a wonderfully talented musician who lives here in the D.C. area. Flory was born in Bosnia in the 1920s and came to the U.S. after the Second World War. She’s not joining us for the exhausting weeks of rehearsals and performances we have coming up, so this was a special occasion.
For about half of the concert, Flory sang, played guitar and percussion, and told stories about her childhood in Bosnia. Like the one about the aunts who knitted sweaters; one of them always made the sleeves too short and one made the sleeves too long. So if you met someone with a new sweater, you could tell which aunt made it.
“Ocho Kandelikas” is a counting song about the eight candles of Hanukkah. A “kandela” is a candle, so a “kandelika” is a little candle. The chorus goes “Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas….” We’ve learned a version arranged by Trio Sefardi member Tina Chancey, so it was so exciting to hear Flory singing her composition tonight.
You may wish to study, because this is one of the times when the audience gets to sing along.
Want more information on the show or to buy tickets? Click here!
Tonight at 7:30pm, Trio Sefardi will be presenting a special concert at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church. This will be Washington Revels’ second “salon-concert” presented in conjunction with the 2011 Christmas Revels show–offering a great opportunity to hear and interact with our guest musicians in a more intimate setting than Lisner Auditorium. Tickets are available online or at the door tonight.
Performers Howard Bass, Tina Chancey and Susan Gaeta share a love of and a wide-ranging experience with Sephardic music. Its members have performed and recorded with La Rondinella, the Western Wind, and with NEA National Heritage Fellowship awardee Flory Jagoda, the renowned Sephardic singer and composer, who will be joining them tonight in this very special performance.
Trio Sefardi combines a respect for tradition with a creative approach to arranging and scoring to bring the vibrant past into the living present. After making their Washington-area debut on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in November 2010, the trio is now releasing their first recording, Sefardic Celebration this month! In fact, if you attend tonight’s salon-concert, you will have an opportunity to purchase one of the first copies of this new CD (Hear audio excerpts from their new CD online).
Learn more about the performers in tonight’s concert:
Flory Jagoda (from the NEA National Heritage Fellowship Web site)
What is Sephardic Music?
Music of the Sephardic Jews, including traditional songs encompass ballads, romances and wedding songs that were passed on orally and sung originally in various Iberian languages (Castilian, Catalan, Galician, etc.), as well as Hebrew.
Who are the Sephardim (Sephardic Jews)?
Those Jews whose roots can be traced to the Iberian Peninsula where Jews first appeared in the early years following the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and exile from the Holy Land. There are references to a Jewish presence in Iberia from the time of Solomon, when Jewish adventurers sailed the Mediterranean Sea. The first notated date is 79 AD. Spanish Jews in Iberia lived in relatively good times under Moorish rule during the 10th and 11th centuries when Islamic power was at its zenith. Jewish physicians, advisors, diplomats and financiers were important participants in the Islamic Courts in Spain. They were classed as politically neutral and used as arbitrators in all disputes between Muslims and Christians.
Information on Sephardic culture excerpted from Susan Gaeta’s Web site (www.susangaeta.com)
Want more information on the show or to buy tickets? Click here!